venerdì 22 maggio 2009

Karl der Große

Karl der Grosse lebte von 768 bis 814.
800 n.Chr. stellte den Höhepunkt der Macht Karls des Großen dar. Erneut bat Papst Leo III. um Hilfe, gegen eine Verschwörung des römischen Stadtadels. Beim Weihnachtsgottesdienstes krönte dieser Karl zum Kaiser nach byzantinischem Ritus. Der Kaisertitel symbolisierte die konkreten Machtverhältnisse, und staerkte seine Position als Anfuehrer des westlichen christlichen Okzidents geworden. Kaiser Karl der Große war ständig auf Reisen durch sein Reichsgebiet und rastete auf königlichen/kaiserlichen Pfalzen und Höfen, um vor Ort Recht zu sprechen und Gesandte zu empfangen. Karls Lieblingspfalz wurde Aachen.

Karl der Große und Aachen
Nur in Aachen gibt es ein Bauwerk, das so eng mit Kaiser Karl dem Großen verbunden ist: seine Pfalzkapelle, der Aachener Dom. Dieses Bauwerk ist eines der besterhaltenen Baudenkmäler der Karolingerzeit.Ein „Neues Rom“ - diesen Traum wollte Karl der Große Wirklichkeit werden lassen, als er in Aachen den Königshof in eine Reichsresidenz umwandelte. Für den christlichen König war es selbstverständlich, dass er neben seiner Residenz auch eine Kirche bauen ließ. Dem Baumeister Odo von Metz gelang es, das religiöse und politische Gedankengut Karls des Großen in ein einzigartiges Bauwerk umzusetzen. Die Aachener Marienkirche ist der früheste große kuppelüberwölbte Bau nördlich der Alpen und bleibt in diesem Teil Europas für vier Jahrhunderte der höchste gewölbte Innenraum.
His empire became far greater than
Charlemagne's empire became far greater than the Byzantine, surpassed in scope only by the realm of the Abbasid caliphate, but suddenly Germany had to protect itself against the Norse, who raided the Frisian coast, and Slavs bent on murderous rampages. Because of this danger, he divided his empire in 806 among his three sons: Pepin, Louis, and Karl. Pepin died in 810, Karl in 811,and only Louis remained. In 813, Louis was elevated from the rank of king to that of emperor, and his father, by then age 72 and in the 47th year of his reign, said: “Blessed be Thou, O Lord God, Who hast granted me the grace to see with my own eyes my son seated on my throne!” Four months later, Karl der Grosse died and was buried under the dome of the cathedral at Aachen, dressed in his imperial robes. He was Carolus Magnus, Karl der Grosse, Charlemagne.
Charlemagne both led and sent his armies far. He subdued the unruly Saxon heathens, giving them a choice between baptism or death, supposedly resulting in the beheading of 4,500 of them in one day. He drove back the advancing Slavs, defeated the Avars, and by the thirty-fourth year of his reign, he could resign himself to peace until his death in 814. He bestowed a governmental structure and unifying faith upon Western Europe which had been torn by religious and political strife for years, and he managed to bring all of the people between the Vistula and the Atlantic, the Baltic and the Pyrenees, nearly all of Italy and much of the Balkans under his rule.
Through the Capitulare missorum, the people of Francia had their own guarantee of equality, justice and freedom from tyranny four centuries before England’s Magna Carta was established. Under Charlemgane's enlightened rule, conscientious effort was made to change barbarism into civilization through legislation pertaining to most aspects of civilized living from religion to government. A great bridge was built across the Rhine at Mainz to produce active trade, a stable currency was maintained and a system of welfare was created and paid for by taxation on the nobles and the clergy.
He called in foreign scholars to restore the schools of France and to teach a school that he organized in the royal palace at Aachen. He sent to England and elsewhere for teachers, and soon the palace school was an active center of study and the birthplace of educational reform that spread throughout the realm. Even Charlemagne and his family were eager pupils. While he studied Latin, he continued to speak German, and he compiled German grammar and specimens of early German poetry. He imported scholars, and out of his schools came the university system of Europe. Charlemagne was profusely generous to the Church, of which he was the master, yet he also had open negotiations with Moslem rulers suggesting fair treatment of their respective minority populations.
What we know as the Holy Roman Empire was born of a noble vision of world peace, order and civilization. German rulers of the 19th century were enamored of the memory of Charlemagne. In 1843, Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm IV had Charlemagne's tomb opened. His bones were still intact, except for part of the right arm, and his living height was calculated just over 6 feet. In 1861, 1874, and finally 1906 it was opened again. His throne, left Einhard's "The Life of Charlemagne"1880: "Charles was large and strong, and of lofty stature, though not disproportionately tall (his height is well known to have been seven times the length of his foot); the upper part of his head was round, his eyes very large and animated, nose a little long, hair fair, and face laughing and merry. Thus his appearance was always stately and dignified, whether he was standing or sitting; although his neck was thick and somewhat short, and his belly rather prominent; but the symmetry of the rest of his body concealed these defects. His gait was firm, his whole carriage manly, and his voice clear, but not so strong as his size led one to expect. His health was excellent, except during the four years preceding his death, when he was subject to frequent fevers; at the last he even limped a little with one foot. Even in those years he consulted rather his own inclinations than the advice of physicians, who were almost hateful to him, because they wanted him to give up roasts, to which he was accustomed, and to eat boiled meat instead. In accordance with the national custom, he took frequent exercise on horseback and in the chase, accomplishments in which scarcely any people in the world can equal the Franks. He enjoyed the exhalations from natural warm springs, and often practised swimming, in which he was such an adept that none could surpass him; and hence it was that he built his palace at Aixla-Chapelle, and lived there constantly during his latter years until his death. He used not only to invite his sons to his bath, but his nobles and friends, and now and then a troop of his retinue or body guard, so that a hundred or more persons sometimes bathed with him."
He was so fond of his six daughters that he talked them out of marriage, and they consequently consoled themselves with a variety of love affairs and bore many illegitimate children, which Charlemagne accepted with affection, since he himself had four successive wives and five mistresses or concubines who bore him eighteen children, of whom only eight were legitimate. He was said to be moderate in his eating and drinking, loathed drunkenness, and maintained good health. He rarely entertained, and instead enjoyed music and a good book. He had almost a clairvoyant intelligence, extreme vitality, unbridled enthusiasm for science, law, literature, and theology; he mocked superstition yet sometimes employed soothsayers. He spoke directly and honestly, and could be ruthless when required, especially in regard to spreading Christianity. Yet, he was at the same time kind, charitable and emotional.
The Moslem governor of Barcelona asked for his help in defeating the caliph of Cordova, another Moslem, and in the year 777, Karl led the army across the Pyrenees until he realized he had been deceived. As he led his army back through the mountains, the Basques attacked his rear guard and killed nearly every man in the squad led by Karl's nephew Roland, a battle later immortalized in song and story. In 795, Karl returned and conquered part of northeast Spain before again assaulting the persistent Lombards in Italy, a feat for which Pope Leo III crowned him Emperor of the Romans on Christmas Day in 800 AD.
Charlemagne made military service a condition of owning land and created a system of knighthood and noblemen, along with a whole code of moral behavior in order to build a strong military. Building upon the Roman system of feudalism, Charlemagne enabled this new noble military class to ensure the well-being of serfs who would in turn provide and supply the needs of the nobleman and his militarily. In this well planned society, Charlemagne can be considered the Father of Feudalism. He formed a structured society based on public participation in the government with assemblies of armed property owners, and he respectfully delegated various individual responsibilities to all.
It was Charlemagne who first attempted to organize his kingdom by dividing his power with various levels of government: an aristocrat appointed as Count controlled the lords and nobles who in turn controlled the serfs or peasants on the fief of each knight. The counts took care of administrative tasks and supervised Church business and an appointed Bishop headed a diocese within certain borders. In those areas where there were potentially volatile situations, Charlemagne appointed a Margrave. By his formulation of the Chapters of Legislation, once a year they all traveled to the king's court at Aachen to convene and to discuss governmental business. Here they presented items for oral vote (out of the jurata, a custom in ninth century Frankish lands where a sworn group of inquirers was used to decide many local issues from land ownership to criminal guilt, came the jury system of modern times). In between these meetings, Charlemagne traveled to the various capitalsof the region, and held assemblies of the nobles where they would hash things out and come to agreement on various issues. They also shared a good time with much joking and talking. Between meetings, a group of emissaries called the missi dominici travelled throughout the kingdom hearing complaints and making sure that things were running smoothly and also collected taxes.
Karl der Große was born of German blood and German language at a place unknown. He could speak ancient Teuton, Latin and Greek and he became king at age twenty-nine. Karl, the second son of Bertrada and Pepin the Short, was born in 751, the year that Pepin declared himself King of the Franks. In 754, Pepin successfully convinced Pope Stephen II to crown him in exchange for defending Italy against the Germanic Lombards, a tribe occupying central and northern Italy. Karl saw war as a child riding with his father's army, and he would continue to personally and physically lead men into battle throughout 53 campaigns in the course of building his empire.
Charlemagne took over the governing of Aachen in 768 AD. The imperial palace was located by the source of warm springs and soon became Charlemagne's permanent residence. As years went by, the town became more and more prosperous. Charlemagne was buried in the Cathedral of Aachen, the construction of which he had personally overseen in 824. The town's ties with Charlemagne were reflected in its numerous architectural heirlooms and memorials.
In 936, Otto I was crowned emperor in the cathedral and the Holy Roman Emperors were crowned in Aachen for the next 600 years.
During the 9th and 10th centuries, Charlemagnes empire was basically divided into two parts, German and French. In the French half (most of present day France), most of the population spoke dialects of Latin, while in the German half, German was spoken... and still is. The Oath of Strasbourg, a document from 842, was written in German and French in recognition of this division and made it official. The French portion of the Frankish kingdom remained united while the German portion broke into many independent states that were not united until 1870.
The concept of feudalism was a combination of German and Roman practices developed and practiced most widely by the Franks, a large confederation of Germanic tribes who, wanting freedom from both other Germans and the Romans, united in the 3rd century AD and adopted the common name "Frank" (derived either from the word "Free" or "Spear"). They were the most successful of the German tribes and by the 4th century, many of them were living in the area of Belgium and the Rhineland as allies of Rome, while other Franks were living in adjacent German territory. The Franks maintained independence and later helped defeat the Huns who were terrorizing Europe.
Since they lived close to the Romans in Gaul for so long, the Franks developed and modeled their own kingdoms in a similar manner to Roman civilization and once Roman authority was gone in the 5th century, many of these Frankish kingdoms united under Merovich (reigned 448-458) whose grandson, Clovis (reigned 481-511) converted to Christianity. The Franks conquered southern France and large parts of Germany. The Franks were so efficient and successful that all Germanic peoples grew to be considered "Franks". The Christian Frankish kingdom continued to develop throughout the 6th century. Unlike the Romans, where officials were selected more for their ability, the ancient German tribes believed that their clan's ruling dynasties were descended from the gods. The Franks incorporated their pagan belief into their new Christianity by having their leaders "annointed" by a bishop. This adaptation to an old German concept allowed the Church to develope the idea of the "Divine Right of Kings", a leader chosen by God. The Franks turned the Roman estate practices into what became known as the Manor System .
By the 8th century, the Frankish warrior on horseback was superior to any European infantry force, and from the 700s to the 1200s, they controled the battlefield. But since maintaining the lifestyle of these knights was an expensive proposition with their costly equipment and families to support, the Frankish kings decided to to introduce a system that would provide trained soliders for the crown and also put reliable men in local positions of authority throughout the kingdom by combining the manor system with all their knights. The German noble was therefore surrounded by loyal lesser nobles and commoners in a fellowship bound together for mutual protection, and although they farmed and hunted, war was, by the nature of the times, a central element in their lives. The Frankish kingdom culminated in one man: Charlemagne.